STEVE RASNIC TEM’s writing career spans over 40 years, including poetry, plays, short stories, and novels in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror, crime, and regional fiction set in the Appalachian South. His collaborative novella with his late wife Melanie Tem, The Man On The Ceiling, won the World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, and International Horror Guild awards in 2001. He has also won the Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, and British Fantasy Awards for his solo work. His novel UBO (Solaris, January 2017) is a dark science fictional tale about violence and its origins. Steve’s southern gothic novel Blood Kin (Solaris, March 2014) won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award. His other novels include his YA The Mask Shop of Doctor Blaack (Hex, 2018), Deadfall Hotel (Solaris, 2012), The Man On The Ceiling (Wizards of the Coast Discoveries, 2008, written with Melanie Tem), The Book of Days (Subterranean, 2002), Daughters (Grand Central, 2001, also written with Melanie Tem), and Excavation (Avon, 1987). A handbook on writing, Yours to Tell: Dialogues on the Art & Practice of Fiction, also written with Melanie, appeared in 2017. Steve has published over 500 short stories. His first collection of stories, Ombres sur la Route, was published by the French publisher Denoël in 1994. His first English language collection, City Fishing (Silver Salamander, 2000) won the International Horror Guild Award. His other story collections include The Far Side of the Lake, In Concert (collaborations with Melanie Tem), Ugly Behavior, Onion Songs, Celestial Inventories, Twember, Here With The Shadows, Out of the Dark: A Storybook of Horrors, Everything Is Fine Now, The Night Doctor and Other Tales, and Thanatrauma. Coming soon: Rough Justice: The Complete Noir, from Centipede. Visit his website at www.stevetem.com.
The Fiends in the Furrows III: Final Harvest
“F is for the Farm”
What draws you to folk horror?
There are two aspects of Folk Horror which consistently draw me in both as a reader and as a creator. The first is the connection to place, a landscape whose history is never completely knowable, which possesses mysteries beyond our ability to completely understand. I think this reflects the general relationship human beings have to the greater natural universe. We always have questions, and those questions are never completely answered. And this sense of mystery extends to our incomplete knowledge of self.
The other aspect is our fear of what a group of human beings sharing similar beliefs is capable of. The communities portrayed in Folk Horror provide a focused example of this phenomenon as they are often isolated and controlled by a handful of individuals. They are shielded from outside influences, so their beliefs aren’t ameliorated by more reasonable interpretations of reality. This kind of pressure cooker circumstance can encourage some of the most horrendous behavior of which human beings are capable.
What inspired you to write your FIENDS III story?
Off and on over a number of years I’ve been writing a cycle of stories set on a single street called Alphabet Row. I’ve had friends over the years who have managed to create extensive flourishing gardens within some decidedly urban environments. I’m also aware of shared housing situations in which people with similar spiritual beliefs decided to rent or buy a residence together. Putting these notions together suggested some interesting possibilities for a Folk Horror story within an urban setting. “F is for the Farm” is the result.
What upcoming projects are you working on?
This year I hope to complete my Alphabet Row cycle of stories. Twenty-six stories, one for each letter of the alphabet, or twenty-seven if I decide to include a coda. The cycle is titled Queneau’s Alphabet. I’m also writing a number of short stories which aren’t a part of this cycle.
Also coming this year will be Rough Justice: The Complete Noir, a collection of all my crime stories from Centipede Press.